Following an explosion and fire at a home in West Kelowna on July 4 that left one man dead and two seriously injured, residents of the area are concerned about the safety of the neighbourhood.
Sheila Kennedy lives a block away from the house that Kelowna RCMP suspect was caused by drug production, and she is worried about what is next for her neighbourhood. Kennedy says she speaks on behalf of her neighbours who feel the same way.
“All of our grandkids go through this area all of the time, and this is the fear (we have)—This is a big ongoing issue, what happened to those kids, and what was going on in that house is just an example of what is going on here. I feel horrible about what happened to them,” Kennedy said. “This is a beautiful area, with the exception of the pockets of ‘slum’.”
Kennedy has been feuding with the owner of the home, Sarwan Gidda, for more than 20 years.
“These issues have to be dealt with,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy claims that Gidda, instructed the tenants to tell bylaw officers they worked for Gidda to avoid a fine for renting out housing reserved for temporary agricultural workers to people that are not.
Gidda says that the couple had other jobs but helped out on the farm when he needed help, because he is having trouble finding people that want to work on the farm this year.
“It looked like they were nice people— drugs are just part of life now sadly,” Gidda said. “I am in complete shock. Someone lost a life there, it’s not something to be sneezed at.”
Gidda says he has never aspired to have tenants, and hopes to soon leave the farming industry all together and sell his land to developers but because of the Agricultural Land Commission Act his dream of retirement is unrealistic. The house was his first home, it came with the land and it’s where he raised his family. Gidda says there is nothing he could have done to prevent this from happening.
“I was there every day outside that house, working the land. It happened at night, and only takes an hour for something like this to happen. If I want to do an inspection I have to give 24 hours notice and by then they can clean everything up before I get there,” Gidda said.
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